Is Customer Loyalty Unattainable?

I was asked to review an article post written by a colleague in my field. The premise was that customer loyalty is a thing of the past. His point was that consumer demographics have changed, the economic situation has created a different mindset, and that while customers are looking to form relationships, we, as business owners, can’t expect them to be loyal. Therefore, measuring loyalty should now be a thing of the past.

It’s a good article written by Dean van Leeuwen that I believe gets us to delve deeper into the real world use of the term – customer loyalty. Loyalty is what I think you should always strive for. But in the mind of the customer, like Dean says, they are not going to fall for glossy ads and empty promises. They’ve been let down too many times. They want companies to back up what they promise.

The comment I made is posted below……. What are your thoughts on this?

The title certainly caught my eye and I was ready to completely disagree with you. After reading the rest, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. I believe you are dissecting the word “Loyalty” to nuances we generally gloss over.

My thought is that companies hope for loyalty, but ultimately to break it down – they are hoping for repeat business from their existing customers time and time again. Your point about customers never looking to find a business they can be loyal to is correct. I think that customers are looking for a “go to resource” for that particular need. The way to do that is to create a truly unique experience. You build unique experiences by tapping into the feelings of the customers and thus, building relationships that continue over time.

The key here is to constantly be talking and engaging with the customers. As you so eloquently pointed out, they are not falling for empty promises or glossy ad campaigns. Studies show that 80% of companies think they are delivering good service and making good on their promises, but only 8% of their customers agree. To that point, as you said “companies are now being forced to build genuine and mutually beneficial relationships with their customers” – that is the crux of successful sustainability.

Based on human nature, people remain loyal to those they have positive relationships with, be it family or best friends. As consumers, we absolutely want to have one resource that is based on a positive relationship – one where the customer is appreciated for the dollars it brings to the business, and the customer values the efforts being made by the business by trying to solve their problems and create an environment and experience that draws the customers back.

With my clients, the first thing I tell them is that it is not their product or service that their customers are buying. It is the relationship that is being bought. The relationship based on the promises that the company makes and their willingness and ability to fulfill those promises, wrapped up in a package catered to the preferences of that customer.

So, that being said – I think you are dissecting the word loyalty to one that many have not done before. Loyalty on the part of consumers cannot be expected. The repeat business is what the company is wanting and they must do everything in their power to make their customers want to go out of their way to do business with them.

Very thought provoking post! Keep them coming!

2 Replies to “Is Customer Loyalty Unattainable?”

  1. I agree loyalty on the cannot be expected. If your expect customers to be loyal then you are in a sense taking them for granted. Loyalty needs to be earned and earned again, and again, and again … (well I think your get my drift). I present this personal example of what I mean.

    I recently had to replace the transmission on my wife’s van. I called the dealer where we normally take the van for maintenance and was quoted $5,000. The person who took my call had to place me on hold to ask someone. When he could not find the information he said he had to call me back. Four hours later I called them and at that point is was quoted the estimate. I called around and find a shop in another town that had the answers immediately, quoted me a price and stuck to that price.

    We had been regular customers to the dealer and over the years has seen the service decrease. Half the time they do not answer the phone and when they do answer they cannot answer my questions. This new place, I receive all answers when I call and in the rare occasion they do not answer I receive a call back in less than 30 minutes.

    The lesson here is that I perceived tha tthe dealer was beginning to take me for granted, thinking after all these years they had a loyal customer. I have purchased two cars from them, and had taken the van in for regular service for the past 9 years. However, because I felt taken for granted I am moving on. I might go back to purchase a car but I will not take it there for service.

    Loyalty is something that has to be earned and is not something that should be expected.

    1. Ahhhh….. fantastic example! This further proves the point that everyone’s perception is their reality. You began to feel that you were being a treated a bit as a “sure thing” and that you had done business with them long enough that they could take you for granted. Now, as you stated, the situation has become every business person’s worst fear….. you are going to find one of their competitors who will treat you well.

      Unfortunately, it may take you a bit to find that place that will understand the fact that you want, and deserve, to be treated better than you were before. But when you do, you’ll instantly get that positive feeling of being valued, not a “given.”

      Thanks for your comment and I look forward to hearing more from you.


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